Cognitive behavioral therapy for persons living with HIV in China: A randomized pilot trial

Shuyu Han, Yan Hu, Hongzhou Lu, Lin Zhang, Zheng Zhu, Jianfeng Luo, Michael V. Relf, Marta I. Mulawa, Yaolin Pei, Bei Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Chinese persons living with HIV (PLWH) suffer from prevalent mental health issues. We aimed to develop a tailored cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), test its feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects (depression, anxiety, and medication adherence) for Chinese PLWH. Methods: Twenty PLWH were assigned randomly. Intervention participants learned skills in CBT and relaxation training in a tailored group-based weekly 10-session project. Each session lasted for two hours and was delivered by nurses and volunteers. Control participants only received laboratory tests and free antiretroviral therapy (ART) medication. Feasibility and acceptability were descriptively summarized. Depression, anxiety, and ART medication adherence data were collected at the baseline (T0), after the intervention (T1) and after 6 months of follow-up (T2). Results: The average CBT attendance rate for all sessions was 60%. No participants in the intervention group dropped out of the study. All participants in the intervention group agreed that they could benefit from the CBT. Participants in the intervention group showed a greater improvement in anxiety and self-reported ART medication adherence than those in the control group at T1. However, no preliminary intervention effect was found at T2. Limitations: The small sample size leads to a lack of representativeness in the study sample. We excluded participants with severe comorbidities, which may lead to an underestimate of the intervention effect of CBT among Chinese PLWH. Conclusions: CBT is feasible and acceptable, demonstrating promising preliminary effects on anxiety and ART medication adherence among Chinese PLWH. Additional research is needed to test the effectiveness of this approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-648
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • AIDS
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Depression
  • HIV
  • Medication Adherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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